Ecuador is small and compact enough, giving a chance to try different activities within just one journey - mountain trekking in the Andes, rafting in Amazon jungle and fantastic, even surreal diving experience at Galápagos Islands.
This Pacific Ocean archipelago consists of 13 main volcanic islands and 6 smaller ones. Going by boat, you can get to snorkeling spots marked along the shores, yet no diving is allowed there. For diving, one has to uses other, specially equipped boats taking to diving spots.
The famous Darwin Island is sited slightly off the main archipelago and is an ultimate diver's paradise! Only 4 companies with 5 boats are providing diving trips there, and the substantial demand determines pretty steep prices. Nevertheless, it's an exceptional experience with great service and marvelous food including lobsters for lunch!
Another choice is a so called daily dive, yet boats are taking to rather vacant locations in this case with no great variety of underwater creatures. Near Darwin Island, such empty dives are hardly possible at all, only plankton may occasionally lessen the visibility.
Galápagos diving trips promise encounters with hundreds of sharks in every single dive! During the cold season (+160C), there is a good chance of seeing manta rays or whale sharks, while starting from December the water becomes warmer (up to +250C) and the activity of hammerhead sharks increases. This is the only place I know where they dare to come so close. Just about 1 meter away, 50 to 100 sharks may swim by; they are above, below and right next to you! If you are lucky, you may come across a tiger shark, too. Just be cautious - it may turn out not to be that pleasant at all!
The Pacific Ocean currents are quite strong and the climate is not exactly subtropical. For most part, Galápagos Islands, due to their volcanic origin, feature somewhat moon-like landscape, seemingly with no signs of life whatsoever. In spite of deserted impression, Galápagos has its very own and unique wildlife not to be seen elsewhere in the world - sea and land iguanas, Galápagos penguins, giant tortoises, exotic birds and many more. With no natural enemies, species are well-preserved despite of the harm once caused by human activities. Now Galápagos Islands form a National Park and a Biological Marine Reserve, both implementing strict measures to protect unique wildlife of the area.
The quantity and diversity of fish is mind-blowing and its whirl of barracuda school even beats the famous Sipadan's Barracuda Point with its huge moving wall of fish by far.
The Red Sea coral reefs near Egypt are brighter perhaps, yet Galápagos ray schools are beyond any comparison!
Seals, iguanas and birds aren't scared of people. They won't stir seeing people passing by and just follow them with their eyes! Sea lions would watch curiously as you snorkel and come closer, wishing to play; numerous dolphins would jump around the boat until suddenly a killer dolphin comes into sight. Surprise awaits around every corner! You find yourself amidst animals, in their kingdom, and its diversity is absolutely surreal - like a scene from another world!
Galápagos Islands with its amazing and unique wildlife once served as an inspiration for Charles Darwin's work on modification of species and his theory of evolution.
Freshwater can be found on just some of the islands of Galápagos archipelago. They look very different, like some enchanted spots of the earth. In the Middle Ages, this peculiar, somewhat magical quality scared off pirates, who didn't even dare to settle down there.
Galápagos Islands are a popular surfing destination as well, while Quito is a perfect place to study Spanish language. Its Spanish boasts to be one of the purest in the entire Latin America and it has several Spanish language schools. Aside from the above mentioned rafting, diving, surfing and trekking activities, you can also checkmark that you have been in the Middle of the World, at zero latitude, where Frenchmen have built a museum!
Keywords: scuba dive, Ecuador